Woodbury breaking into speed skating scene
Park City native aims to someday qualify for Olympics
Park City native Lindsey Woodbury, 14, gave plenty of sports a try.
First, it was soccer. Then, she sprung into gymnastics. She even threw karate into the mix, finding it difficult to commit to one activity.
But after a Get Out & Play event hosted by Youth Sports Alliance four years ago, Woodbury discovered speed skating.
“I knew I first fell in love with speed skating when I first did it,” Woodbury said. “At Get Out & Play, I was doing [really well] and learning really fast. A few skaters from the club told me I looked really good.”
Catherine Raney-Norman and Derek Parra, both former Olympians running the speed skating clinic at the event, took notice of Woodbury.
“[Woodbury] took to the basic position of speed skating right away of sitting low,” Raney-Norman said. “When I approached her, she was excited about learning more and was a little shy when I told her she was doing a great job and that she should come out and try skating.”
It took a little convincing from the coaches, but Woodbury attended an open session, where she displayed the same natural ability Norman and Parra spotted. Woodbury’s initial skill has turned into proven talent, as her youth career as a speed skater has taken off.
The 14-year-old said she is lucky to have been taught by former Olympians such as Raney-Norman and Parra. She even brushed shoulders with Apolo Ohno, an eight-time Olympic medalist, at the Utah Olympic Oval,
“Learning from Olympians and champions is definitely the best I could have,” Woodbury said. “They always know exactly what they are talking about and they really know how to help me fix my technique and help mentally.”
Woodbury was recently named to the U.S. Speed Skating Junior National Development team for the long-track event. She was also selected as the 2017 Junior Development Long Track Female Skater of the Year.
Woodbury, who enjoys the occasional short-track race, is the first youth skater from Park City to be named to the developmental team.
“It’s a big step for her, not only in terms of the national recognition, but as a coach, it’s huge that she set a goal and was able to achieve it,” Raney-Norman said. “This was a long-term goal for her over the past season.”
Accomplishing set milestones has put Woodbury in the mindset of working on other goals. For instance, she hopes to qualify for the Junior World Championship and World Cup teams. Four years from now, she wants to be on the U.S. National team, as well as compete in an Olympics.
“This is definitely a sign of things to come,” Woodbury said.
Her father, Robert Woodbury, said if his daughter could, she would drop out of school and spend all of her time at the Oval. But it’s what Woodbury does off of the ice that also makes her a special talent, he added.
Not only does she strive to help the club’s younger skaters, Raney-Norman said, Woodbury is also focused on learning American Sign Language. When she’s not busy honing her craft on the Oval, the teenager helps with the the club’s “Learn-to-Skate” program and aids participants that have impaired hearing.
“Lindsey is always volunteering at the international and senior national events down at the Oval,” Raney-Norman said. “She always helps the younger kids in our club with their skating technique and the Learn-to-Skate kids down at the Oval. And she volunteers at her synagogue, as well. She is an extremely well-rounded athlete and person.”
Though Woodbury has found speed-skating success so far, she hopes to achieve more. Her coaches tell her she can always improve, which Woodbury believes. In fact, she jokes with Raney-Norman about breaking the former Olympian’s 3,000-, 5,000- and 10,000-meter records, which have been held since 2005.
Records are meant to be broken, and Raney-Norman hopes it happens.
“There is no one more that I would want to break my records than Lindsey,” Raney-Norman said. “I’d cheer for her to break them in a heartbeat. She has it in her, and I hope that she is the one to break them.”
The Park City High School girls golf team took second in the Class 4A state championship tournament on Thursday. It was the team’s fifth consecutive time as runner-up.